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April 1,2014 I TheHilarion
"Glory to God" is new favorite in Oprah's Book Club
By Jyle Kajola
I t’s difficult to look directly at a helicopter
while it hovers a few feet over your
head. It’s even harder not to look away when
you know Oprah Winfrey is on board. The
60-year-old television personality and official
spokesperson for the third world flew in last
Friday to meet with Dr. Mary Louise Bringle
and talk about her new book “Glory to God,’’
which was chosen last month as the favorite
book in Oprah’s Book Club.
1 was lucky enough to stand behind Winfrey
and peek over her hair to listen in as she sat
down with Bringle for an interview.
Oprah: Mary Louise, or is it just Louise?
Can I call you Louise? What about just Lou?
M.L. Bringle : Actually I prefer Mel.
O: How about Doctor Lou? My viewers love
it when 1 talk to doctors
MLB: Whatever you’re comfortable with.
O: Let me just begin by saying Doc that
your new book “Glory to God”, I like to call
it G2G, immediately reminded me of a book 1
think I’ve read before.
MLB: You’re referring to the Bible?
O: Yes! That’s the one.
MLB: Well, certainly “Glory to God”
contains texts that are biblically inspired, yes.
O: Biblical inspiration, that’s deep. Tell me,
who is your favorite character in your book?
MLB: I don’t think you understand. This is
O: Yes, but you have characters too. I’ll tell
you mine is in chapter 163 where the wild and
lone prophet is yelling in the desert and no one
hears her. It’s so existentially romantic, don’t
MLB: Oprah, you know these are songs,
right? They aren’t “chapters” either.
O: But isn’t the wild and lone prophet in your
book a symbol for the wild and lone prophet
or prophetess in all of us?
MLB: No, it’s a reference to John the Baptist
O: I thought you were Presbyterian
MLB: Well, yes, but baptism isn’t a
denominational thing. We baptize in the
Presbyterian Church too.
O: It has to be a full dunk or it doesn’t count,
MLB: It depends on what you believe.
O: I had an alcoholic uncle fall in the river
during a baptism ceremony. He drowned. Do
you think he’s in Heaven?
MLB: 1 can’t
say one way or the
O: But surely you
with him? Can’t
all religious people
talk to the dead?
Don’t you do that
Do you really
O: Oh, I believe
in the power of
healthy eating, and
O: Off the record, you originally intended to
release this as an autobiography. What changed
MLB: (to me) Is she serious?
K: I think so
MLB: On the record, I never intended to
release this as an autobiography.
O: What about chapter 223 when you
surveyed the Wondrous Cross? Surely that
came from personal experience?
MLB: I didn’t write that.
O: Oh Lord Jesus, not again. You know
James Frey did this to me a few years ago.
MLB: “Glory to God” is a collection of
hymns, some that span back hundreds of years
and written by people all over the world.
O: So it’s a book of short stories.
MLB: In a strange, non-sequitur way, yes.
O: You know, I read another book like that
not too long ago called “The Waterhouse”
published by Press 53. Have you heard of it?
MLB: Yes, my colleague. Dr. Jubal Tiner,
0:1 hated it.
MLB: Me too.
O: You’ve been on tour for months promoting
the book. How long has it been on the New
York Times bestseller list?
MLB: Never. ’’Glory to God” isn’t reviewed
by the New York Times.
O: What about your Pulitzer nomination?
MLB: Again, that’s for authors who write
literary works. I chaired a committee that put
together a hymnal.
O: Doctor Lou, who do you imagine your
typical reader to be for a book like this?
MLB: Well, “Glory to God” is the newest
incarnation of the Presbyterian hymnal, so I’d
imagine quite a few have seen it and use it in
their weekly congregational worship services.
O: Fascinating. I didn’t know Presbyterians
believed in reincarnation.
MLB: We don’t.
O: Yes, but you just said your book is the
newest incarnation of the hymnal. Tell me,
what do you imagine it was in its past life?
MLB: Trees, 1 suppose.
O: Really? 1 swear I could feel the aura of
Zora Neal Hurston radiating from the pages
when I read the chapter “Their Eyes were
MLB: That’s not in the text.
O: Sure it is. Chapter 354.
MLB: (to me) Do you have any idea what
she’s talking about?
K: I think she means, “Mine Eyes Have Seen
the Glory. ”
O: You also delve into the gothic and
macabre at one point in chapter 278, “Come,
Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire.” Who are some
of your early gothic influences?
O: Is he Russian?
MLB: Are you stupid?
O: I think we’re about out of time. Thank you
so much Doctor Lou for sharing some insight
into your new book “Glory to God.” I’m sure
your readers will be looking forward to the
sequel, due out next fall, right?
MLB: There won’t be a sequel, Oprah!
O: Well not with an attitude like that, Lou.